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IBM’s CLM solution supports SAFe® 4.5 today!

If you are a SAFe groupie like I am, you know by now that a new version of the Scaled Agile Framework® was introduced last week by Scaled Agile, Inc.. For those of you whose lives don’t revolve around SAFe, I’ll provide a quick summary before explaining how the Rational solution for Collaborative Lifecycle Management  (CLM) can already support SAFe 4.5 today.

What’s New in SAFe 4.5?

First and foremost, the name of the framework has changed to SAFe® for Lean Enterprises to highlight the fact that it applies to any enterprise organization, in any industry, looking to “get lean”. The themes driving the new release include:

  • Enhanced configurability to choose how SAFe you want or need to be as an organization
  • Enhanced usability driven by simplifications in the “big picture”
  • A focus on scalable DevOps and Continuous Delivery

Secondly, there is a focus now on Solutions, which I personally find to be a much more intuitive concept than Value Streams. It’s not that Value Streams don’t exist anymore, but they are representative of solutions that deliver value for an organization. SAFe 4.5 formalizes that by renaming the Value Stream layer Large Solution, which leads me to the third key change.

To ease adoption of SAFe and allow you to choose how much or how little “safe” you want to be, these two configurations have grown to four possible configurations so you can choose the level of SAFe adoption that fits your organization:

  • Full SAFe (like 4-Level SAFe 4.0)
  • Portfolio SAFe (like 3-Level SAFe 4.0)
  • Large Solution SAFe (No Portfolio)
  • Essential SAFe (Just Program/Team)

These options are quite logical – SAFe is just making them explicit now.

Finally, there is an update to the Kanban workflow for Capabilities and Features. This is to better enable the improved focus on the Continuous Delivery Pipeline through new states: Validating on Staging, Deploying to production, and Releasing.

There is more detail of course, so please visit to learn more.

SAFe 4.5 Support in CLM Today

Terminology changes aside, CLM 6.0.4 already does a great job of supporting SAFe 4.5 because of the way we support SAFe 4.0. The two-tiered set of templates that deliver the SAFe capabilities across all of the CLM applications are already separated for Portfolio/Value Stream and Program/Team levels. In this way, you already have three of the four new configurations in SAFe 4.5 as options: Full SAFe, Portfolio SAFe and Essential SAFe. The missing one, Large Solution SAFe, simply ignores the Portfolio level, which you can also easily do.

Need consistent terminology?

If you’re a stickler for terminology consistency like I am, it is quite simple to make small configuration changes in CLM to bring it up to SAFe 4.5 level. Soon, I will be publishing a document to help you do this. For now, suffice it to say that the CLM is completely configurable, so changing the names of work item types and timeline iterations in Rational Team Concert and artifact names in Rational DOORS Next Generation should do the trick.


Another key change in SAFe 4.5 impacts the Capability (Solution level) and Feature (Program level) Kanbans. This change requires an update to the work flows for those two work item types. Again, a configuration change and I can show you how.

Formalizing the SAFe 4.5 Support

I mentioned that we will be publishing guidelines to help you configure SAFe 4.5 in an existing CLM tooling environment if you want to make some of the important updates to terminology and the Kanban planning process. For those of you that want something more out-of-the-box, we will soon publish beta templates for SAFe 4.5 so that you can take advantage of updates for new projects. Look for these updates on our SAFe landing page.

As always, we are here to help you with your SAFe transformation, so don’t hesitate to reach out. And, of course, your feedback is welcomed and appreciated!

The IBM SAFe Team (